Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A "spare" guitar, just a banger...but something interesting

I decided I should buy a guitar.  Nah, not a fancy new one, just a spare "banger", which I can hide in a cupboard at work and pull out when I need a lunchtime fix.  "Normal" people would say "just take in one of your other guitars", but my only choices are my old Maton steel string, which is a steel string (I'm 100% addicted to nylon at the moment); or my thin body cutaway nylon, "but the neck is too narrow, that's why I stopped playing it!"  My first fullsize guitar, from 1981, I still have; it is a proper classical guitar and would do the job but I keep it at my place down South.

Obviously I don't want to spend a lot; but at the same time I don't really want to buy a just a new beginners guitar (although when I take my oldest daughter to piano lessons while I wait I play a beginners guitar from the shelf, it plays and sounds surprisingly good.  Basically, I think with modern day construction techniques and cheap overseas labour, you can make a pretty reasonable low cost nylon string guitar).

So I want something "interesting".

I started looking in the local classifieds.  I have a theory that pretty much every second house has a nylon string guitar in it that nobody has played for a decade.  But nobody sells them because guitars are, hmm, I don't think there is a word to describe it.  They make you feel good even if you can't play them, and "one day I'll learn how to play it" (that won't happen (but it's good for the soul to think it will)).  So they generally don't find their way into the classifieds.

But when they do; well, they are interesting!

You'll see a whole lot of near-new beginners guitars - it didn't work out.  And then there are the really good guitars being sold by players who are upgrading.  But then there are the decades old ones, maybe the owner has died, someone is just getting rid of it.  *Those* ones got me interested.

There have been a few 1970's classical guitars, one interesting one made by Fender.  I did a little bit of research, umm, okay, it is a beginners guitar from the 70's :)  So I'll have to watch out for that - old, interesting, but essentially just beginners guitars.  Then I saw something _really_ interesting.  The seller listed it as a circa 1940/1950 Japanese classical guitar, made by a company called "Tempo".  Researching it online was difficult, very little information available.  The company existed from 1948 to 1975, but only made electric guitars for the first few decades or so.  Looking at other classical guitars from the 60's they seem to generally have that, umm, "folky" look to them, whereas late 60's and from 70's on they have the "standard" "traditional" sort of look.  This one looked "traditional", so mostly uninformed, I decided it must be early 70's.

I haven't been to look at it yet, but I might.  The thing that puts me off is somebody has strung it with _steel_ strings.  Sheesh.  How many classical guitars do you reckon have been broken by steel strings?  Judging from the photos though there is no big bend in the soundboard (they usually concave in under the extra tension) - so if it has taken steel strings for a while, it must be tough guitar!  (which also means it might be too stiff to get a good sound).  Only way to find out will be to give it a whirl.

Or, keep looking.  I never considered vintage guitars, but now I'm intrigued.  Guitars with history, and even guitars made before I was born!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

What's happening November 2011

The results for the poll "When buying music..." from 72 voters were:

35 (48%) I just pirate music, arrr
30 (41%) I want a CD in my hands
7  ( 9%) Online music stores are great

This actually didn't surprise me at all - well, perhaps everyone's honesty did!  What I did take from that is not to bother putting up pay per download music...if I did ever want to take the time and effort to create really nice recordings I should put them on a CD and offer them for sale.  As for pirating music, well, is youtube not the king of music pirates?  You can listen to _and_ watch any song you can think of, "for free", maybe have to watch an advert.  I guess the artist is supported (well the record company is supported) by advert revenue, which is "better" than P2P "sharing" mp3s put straight onto an mp3 player.

Interesting times.  The old model is dead.  A new model is forming, but what will it be?

Busy time of the year, I haven't been getting to play as much as I would like.  I did a tiny bit more work on Naudos "James Bond Theme", I play it once through each time I pick up the guitar - an important practise method I reckon.  Fingerstyle is not so much about training fingers, but about training the brain.  And the brain works best when you chuck stuff at it in small repetitive bursts.  60 minutes straight of playing the same thing over and over again is not as good value as playing 10 minutes over 6 days.

In the same way, I've played through all the songs I know twice this month; I'm at a point where I need to play for two hours to fit everything in!  Some songs have fallen out of my brain; I need to refer to my tabs to freshen them up.  Such is the need if you want to keep your songs ready!

In October 2011 Dark Side of the Moon was remastered and released.  There are "packs"; you can buy just the remastered album, the "experience" version which has some extras, and the "immersion" version which has a heap of extras.  I grabbed the experience version.  The remastered studio album had a few subtle changes I noticed, but not really enough to buy it outright, but it came with a 1974 live recording of Dark Side of the Moon at Wembley Stadium.  Really interesting to hear.  Not as "nice" as the studio album (that is probably just familiarity speaking) but I love how it shows what they doing with the album shortly after it was released, and how pink floyd were heading towards the next stuff to be released in later years.  I heard sounds and phrases that would be used on everything through to The Wall, possibly beyond.  Recommended for my fellow floyd aficionados.  Keeps my passion for the DSotM project alive :)

Another quite month on the guitar front ahead, but I'm still here!